Monday, February 10, 2014

Hidden Valley Area Small Pictograph Site - Joshua Tree NP

Another great little piece of rock art in Joshua Tree National Park. It's not in the brochures and not on the maps. It's not the best pictograph spot in the park, but it's certainly not the worst. When you combine time spent researching and then actually searching for these spots, some people might not think it's worth it, but it's worth it to me and I know a few other folks out there who feel the same way.  It's part of our history.

There are several pictograph spots in the park that will blow your mind. I just don't want to do posts on them yet, because if I start with them, you might think that the "lesser" spots weren't worth posting.  So, please pardon my fragile ego...

This pictograph is the star of the show in this little spot. It's in pretty good shape because it is well sheltered from the elements.

Here is the same pictograph after being enhanced with a program called DStretch. The software was originally developed by JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratories) and used by NASA to enhance photographs taken by the Mars Rover.  The software was then modified for this purpose (among others) by Jon Harman Ph.D. I am very thankful to him, for providing me with a copy.  As time goes on and I post more photos from other pictograph sites, you will be amazed at what it can do.

 As seen with the naked eye.

I know this doesn't look like much and I'd be lying if I said I knew what it (or many other pictographs) represent. Most of the rock art done in isolated spots like this were done by Shamans while in a dream state (trance) caused by psychedelic substances such as Peyote, Jimson weed, Tobacco or other things. The drew what they saw in their "mind's eye." In many cases the things they drew clearly had meaning. However, your guess is as good as mine, or even the expert's as to what many of them mean. Unfortunately, that ancient knowledge is gone. In addition, some of the pictographs (not these) was created by puberty initiates. More on that in later posts.

The rest of the photos in this post were taken while I was snooping around looking for the spot. Even if a rock formation like this is only a mile around, you sometimes have to hike two or three times that far, because of all the nooks and crannies, climbing and investigating likely looking spots. I'll shut up now!

To enhance your view pleasure (I hope), please embiggen photos of your liking.



  1. Pat, awesome photos! Have you ever seen the pictographs up by Bishop? They are incredible. There are a lot of them and if you take a dirt road for about 12 miles, you can see them. Some of them were vandalized a couple of years ago, but there are many, many, many of them still left.
    Cheryl Ann ~GOT to get over to JT soon!

  2. Amazing shots. That's a cool program. Really like the photo of the burnt tree. It has character.

  3. just beautiful, rugged, unforgiving country! love it, pat.

  4. Fantastic photos, and the DStretch made such a big different!

  5. I do love your photos, Pat!! And I look forward to your posts every week! What a fascinating and beautiful place Joshua Tree NP is! I would love to visit there, but your pics are the next best thing. The rock formations are fascinating! Thanks as always for sharing the beauty and the fun! Hope you have a great new week!!

  6. They don't advertise ours at all practically have to promise your first born child to get a map and even then it's very vague. People have actually cut off pieces of our rock/petroglyphs as souvenirs...and of course...left their own mark. So the powers that be have chosen to just make it as difficult as possible for them to be found...which I totally agree with!!

  7. I enjoyed every picture! Especially pictographs! They are mysterious and fascinating. And the formation of rocks are just priceless!

    Excellent photography and a wonderful journey!

  8. reav4adventures - Thanks Cheryl Ann! I saw one of the groups many years ago (without a camera). I plan on going back up there as soon as I can. thanks for the reminder also!
    I always feel like I need to get back to JT!

    DEZMOND - Me too! They do look kind of lonely.

    Alex - Thanks Alex! It is a great program. It can reveal pictographs that can barely be seen. I liked that tree also.

    TexWisGirl - I love also! You are so right about it being unforgiving.

    Icy BC - Thanks! It really does make a big difference. I'll post some better examples later.

  9. Sylvia - Thanks Sylvia! I really do appreciate your nice words. I hope you also have a great week!

    TheChieftess - I assume you are talking about the petroglyphs by Bishop? I read about some of them being sawed off the rocks. That's terrible. I know where they are, so I won't need the BLM's help. I'm on the fence about keeping these places secret. I understand why they do, but maybe being more open about it and drawing more attention to the them, would have a positive effect. It's an interesting quandary, that's for sure.

    Mama Zen - Thanks! I think so also.

    Kaya - Thanks Kaya! Mysterious and fascinating is a great way to describe these things. Your state has AMAZING rock art and lot's of it!

  10. that chunk of wood looks like a wizard waving to a giant cat

  11. Completely engrossing and fascinating. I could look at these and wonder all day~

  12. Yes , nice pictures , I like that interesting place ! Really beautiful rocky landscapes ! Greetings !

  13. We're planning to visit the southwest in March and spend time out in the deserts. I'm so thankful for all your interesting posts and photos, helping me to decide where we should spend our time.

  14. To these I give the same description I gave to nature spots in Iceland: they have a stark beauty.

  15. I love the pictures of this park, and yet I've never even been close to it.

    I'm assuming they sell the peyote at gas stations? :-)


  16. Lovkyne - It does look pretty weird.

    Shelly - That is how I feel when I'm there.

    Leovi - Thanks Leovi! IT is very rocky!

    Tracey - Well then, you've got a whole bunch of desert to choose from. It's my pleasure and I'm glad you enjoy my posts.

    Al P - Stark beauty is a good way to describe it. I've heard that Iceland is an amazing place.

    Pearl - It's kind of like the Grand Canyon, photos don't really do it justice. Yep, you can buy it at the gas stations, or vending machines along the road.

  17. What a beautiful place, and the pictographs are fascinating. I love your desert photographs, and I'm impressed with how DStretch pulls out the pictographs.

  18. Amazing photos Pat! I just din't know how you find the treasures that you do!

  19. That first picture I feel was the creation of the wheel. That enhancement software sounds wicked fun to play with. Nice to see the sharper images.

    Love the rest of the pictures. But I can't wait to see the pictographs that'll blow us away.

  20. This is wonderful and a part of Joshua Tree that we missed sadly. ...that photo enhancement program is great for looking at these ancient drawings. Unfortunately we visited one site in Utah where a past anthropology class had enhanced the actual drawings with red paint. Made you want to cry! (That happened back in the 1940s I think...I'll have to go back and read my own blog to check.)

  21. Pat--You always see the essential. I wish those ancient humans who left their stars and handprints could have known that you, hundreds of years away and from a different race, would honor them in this way.

  22. I love the pictographs photos...the scenery is also lovely. Thanks so much for your comments on my blog.

  23. I can just imagine your excitement when you find a pictograph! And how interesting about the enhancement software! Really fascinating, fun, enthusiastic content. Such a joy, especially when it comes to this particular park.

  24. I wonder what those pictographs meant? Love the rock formations! Great shots.

  25. Incredible images Pat. It was a bit weird.. as I was looking through your shots here I had a sort of eerie feeling, like it was a sacred place.. did you get that feeling while you were there? It's a bit like in the outback here, the Aboriginal Dreamtime and all that.. especially around big rock formations and of course definitely around Ayers Rock (now Uluru)

  26. Al - Thanks so much Al. DStretch is even better than this. I about to dive into the tutorials and learn how to come up with better results.

    Brian - Thanks Brian! It takes time, research and a lot of searching in the likely places. Sometimes, I find out from other like minded people.

    TS Hendrik - It could have been the wheel, or maybe the first game pieces for Trivial Pursuit.

    Sallie FTL - Yep! That kind of vandalism with "good intent" used to happen quite a bit. I'm going to go back to your blog and also look.

    Margaret Benbow - Thanks Margaret! I think they need to be honored. It wasn't that long ago that many archaeologists pretty much ignored most rock art and considered it to have no value. Thank goodness that has changed.

  27. Nora - Both the comments and pictographs are my pleasure!

    Stickup Artist - I really do get excited. Each one is a little bit of amazing history. I feel that way if it's 200 years old, or 4,000. I agree about Joshua Tree, there is a lot there. We are so lucky to be living in a state that has so much of this stuff. Also, next to states that are also loaded.

    ladyfi - I have no idea what this one means! It might just be what a shaman saw while in his dream state.

    PerthDailyPhoto - Thanks Grace! I do get that same feeling. Local Indians still do consider a lot of these places to be sacred and part of their history. Sometimes, it's more than one tribe, because a few have lived here. This whole place is considered a power spot. Just like Ayers Rock is. I would LOVE to visit your country someday and spend several months there.

  28. These are fascinating, Pat. I'm learning so much about California's history, thanks to you.

    Sorry your entry for my contest was too late. I like your little surple poem.

    Love to you for a happy Valentine's Day and weekend.


  29. Great looking part of the world - excitement is growing here for my trip!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  30. Look at you being all fancy with your program. It's pretty neat!! Beautiful pictures, as always. :)

  31. Great photos of such beautiful landscape!

  32. First, I like the "embiggen" phrase..tee-hee!

    These are amazing all of the neat little(or big in this case) treasures right here in these United States..

  33. Robyn - I agree with you! There are things like this in your part of the state as well. Thanks so much Robyn! I hope you have a great week as well.

    Stewart - It really is a great place to visit. I hope you enjoy your trip.

    Baby Sister - That's funny Amanda! I wish I had a clue how to really use it. When I have some time, I'll be pouring over the tutorials! Thanks!

    Ree - Thanks Ree! I appreciate it! I also agree about the landscape.

    sixdegreesphotography - I also love using that word. It always raises eyebrows. There is so much to see here.

  34. It looks rather magical to me as if this may have been a sacred place long ago.

  35. EG CameraGirl - It was a sacred place to the local Indians. The Cahuilla Indian tribe considers the whole area to be that way.

  36. I've never heard of Joshua Tree NP. You always make incredible finds with such great history.


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